Schedule: The Hogs opened practice on Tuesday afternoon. All practices held outdoors are open to the public. The spring game will be played on April 16 with a 3 p.m. ET kickoff and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
What’s new: The Hogs were able to keep their coaching staff intact. They added graduate assistant Brandon Sharp to work with the defense.
On the mend: Senior receiver Greg Childs (knee), junior defensive tackle D.D. Jones (ankle) and sophomore defensive tackle Byran Jones (shoulder) are all recovering from surgeries and will be limited this spring. None of the three will go through contact.
On the move: Sophomore Eric Bennett is moving from cornerback to safety, while senior De’Anthony Curtis will shift from receiver to cornerback. Also, sophomore Ryan Calendar is moving from defensive end to tight end, and redshirt freshman Jatashun Beachum is moving from fullback to defensive tackle.
Key battle: Even though senior Isaac Madison and junior Darius Winston ended last season as the Hogs’ two starting cornerbacks, they will battle it out this spring for the field cornerback position. Sophomore Jerry Mitchell will open the spring as the starter at the boundary cornerback position.
New faces: True freshman Brey Cook and junior college signee Jason Peacock are two of the leading candidates to step in for DeMarcus Love at left offensive tackle. Freshman receiver Marquel Wade is back after spending last fall at Milford Academy. Wade actually went through a week of practice at Arkansas last season before being pulled off the field. Wade will also factor into the Hogs’ return game. Junior college signee Robert Thomas is listed No. 2 at one defensive tackle, while freshman receiver Quinta Funderburk and freshman linebacker Tyler Gilbert enrolled early and will go through spring practice.
Breaking out: Junior quarterback Tyler Wilson showed what he could do last season on the road against Auburn after filling in for the injured Ryan Mallett. Until the two late interceptions, he was brilliant. Now it’s time for Wilson to take this offense by the reins for an entire season. With all the returning playmakers surrounding him, Wilson has a chance to be one of the top breakout players in the league.
Don’t forget about: Quietly, senior linebacker Jerry Franklin had an All-SEC season a year ago, spearheading a defense that went from 89th nationally in total defense to 36th nationally. Franklin has led the Hogs in tackles each of the last three seasons. He had 100 a year ago.
All eyes on: Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said solidifying the offensive line will be the Hogs’ most important task this spring. They plan to move some guys around, find out who can play where and come up with their best combination. Both tackle jobs are open, and there’s a chance that four of the five starters could end up being freshmen or sophomores.